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November 28, 2009 – Original Source: The Peninsula, Qatar

DOHA: Sea Level Rise (SLR) is posing big risk to Qatar. Like most other Arab countries, the bulk of Qatar’s economic activity, agriculture and population centres are in the coastal zone, making the country highly vulnerable to a possible rise in the SLR.

A remote sensing study ‘On the impacts of Global warming on the Arab region’, released by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) revealed that a sea level rise of mere 1 meter would directly impact 41,500km2 of the Arab coastal lands. Qatar has been enlisted in the potential threat-facing countries. Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are the other countries included in the ‘endangered’ list.

The risk can be in the form of both coastal region inundation and increasing salinity of soil and available fresh water resources such as aquifers. The report revealed that the SLR of 1 metre would directly affect 3.2 percent of the population in these countries, compared to a global percentage of about 1.28 percent.

The study that used remote sensing techniques to depict the consequences on the Arab world of various climate change impact scenarios said Global warming is one of the most serious challenges facing the region today.

The report, second of a series of annual reports produced by the AFED, says that the past century had witnessed a 17cm rise in the sea level at a mean rate of 1.75mm per year. A report published by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 predicted seal-level rise of up to 59cm by 2100.

Taking into account the full “likely” range of predicted increase in temperature, the SLR could even be amplified to up to 1.4m by the year 2100. Other researches have predicted between 5-6 metres SLR in the event of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse.

“The coastal zone of the Arab world is no exception to the threat of SLR. Similar to many parts of the world, capital cities and major towns of Arab countries lie along the coast or on estuaries. Their expansions are extremely rapid and, therefore, these metropolises are at great risk of SLR,” the report said.

The potential impacts of SLR, however, are not uniformly distributed across the Arab region. Egypt will be by far the most impacted in the Arab world.

The current analysis indicates that Bahrain and Qatar would experience a significant reduction of about 13.4 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively, of their land as a result of the 5m SLR scenario.

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